Database Research Summaries
2018 Soil and Water Management for Soybean Production

calendar_today Year of Research: 2019
update Posted On: 12/05/2019
group Amitava Chatterjee (Principal Investigator, North Dakota State University)
bookmark North Dakota Soybean Council

Research Focus

The focus of this project is to study soybean yield and how interactive effects of tile drainage and conservation tillage practices control soil health.


  • Compare soybean yield (Bu/ac) under different tillage practices and tile drained conditions.
  • Determine the influence of different tile spacing and depth combinations on soybean yield (Bu/ac).
  • Determine the nutrient availability (lb/ac) as influenced by tile drainage and tillage management.
  • Changes in water table depth (m) in response to different tile depth and spacing throughout the growing season.


  1. For the first objective, three tillage practices, (i) chisel (CH), (ii) strip-tillage (ST), and (iii) no-tillage, are compared for soybean production under only surface-drained condition (check), controlled drainage and conventional drained conditions.
  2. The highest soybean yield was observed with chisel plough under check (surface drainage) whereas, lowest yield was observed under convention drainage and strip tillage. The outcome indicate performance depends on the growing weather condition, 2017 was dry year with only 217 mm of rainfall which is very low when compared with 30-year average of 397 mm during same growing season.
  3. For the second objective, combinations of three subsurface drain spacing, 30-, 40-, and 50-feet and two depths, 3 feet and 4 feet, are evaluated for soybean production.
  4. During 2017, the highest soybean yield of 30.5 Bu/ac and the lowest yield of 23.2 Bu/ac were found less than 30 feet tile spacing at 4 feet depth (30_4) and surface drained, respectively. In 2015, the highest yield of 56.85 Bu/ac was observed with 40 ft. drain spacing at 3 feet depth and the lowest yield was recorded under 50 feet tile spacing at 4 feet depth (50.16 Bu/ac).


  • Protection of soil tilth and fertility is essential for long-term soybean productivity and soil health. Installation of tile drainage system offers opportunity to increase the production but it can also help in improving soil health by adopting conservation tillage practices.
  • This trial will provide information whether soybean growers can change their conventional tillage to strip- or no-till without sacrificing the economic profitability. Making a decision on tile spacing involves economic consideration; reducing 10-ft tile spacing would add an extra cost of $100 per acre.

For more information about this research project, please visit the National Soybean Checkoff Research Database.

Funded in part by the soybean checkoff.